With last week’s episode 4, “The Tomb,” the stakes are higher than ever for Moon Knight. Khonshu is now imprisoned in an ushabti, Marc and Steven are stuck in some sort of asylum, and Arthur Harrow now has the power to resurrect Ammit. Moon Knight episode 5, “Asylum,” continues our journey into Moon Knight’s mind.
One thing that this penultimate episode beautifully illustrates is the double meaning of “asylum.” While time spent in an asylum can be viewed as imprisonment, asylum also means refuge. And for Marc and Steven, a light does appear at the end of the tunnel — with strings attached, of course.
Warning: Mention of child abuse ahead
The Brit and the Pendulum
This episode of Moon Knight switches between time spent in Dr. Harrow’s asylum office, time spent with Taweret, and time exploring memories. By the end of the episode, all the pieces begin to come together. At first, however, the jump from memory to office to hippo can be a lot. Must be how Marc/Steven feel.
We start off hearing a young boy cry for help. Rushing water and suffocating darkness fill the screen, before a woman yells, “This is all your fault!” Her words shift into Taweret’s scream and then into Marc. Dr. Harrow calms him down, and we’re back in his office at the Putnam Medical Facility in Chicago. He tells Marc that he’s going back and forth between sense and nonsense, building an elaborate story to escape his difficult reality. Harrow describes an “organizing principle,” a place to seek shelter from trauma — he tells Marc this must be what’s happening.
After Marc gets upset when Harrow reminds him of the little boy, he is injected by the Putnam orderlies. The scene transitions back into the hallway encounter with Taweret. She reveals that Marc/Steven are, in fact, dead. With a flourish, she welcomes them to the Duat, the Egyptian underworld. Though, she’s quick to point out the Duat isn’t the afterlife, but an afterlife. Taweret even alludes to Black Panther’s Ancestral Plane as another afterlife.
Her description of the Duat closely mirrors Harrow’s organizing principle, which leads Marc to attempt to leave through a door. Instead, he finds himself on the deck of an enormous barge gliding over the moonlit sands. Taweret then extracts Marc and Steven’s hearts so they can be measured on the Scales of Justice. If a person’s heart is balanced against the Feather of Truth, that person is granted entry into A’aru, the Field of Reeds. However, if the heart is judged to be unbalanced, entry to paradise is rejected and the soul must spend eternity in the sands below.
Kill the Hippo, Steal the Boat
As Taweret weighs Marc and Steven’s hearts, she runs into the same problem that Harrow did before. The scales cannot reach a decision. Unsure of what that means for their futures, Marc suggests they kill Taweret if necessary and Steven is aghast at the suggestion. Marc and Steven are still opposing each other in how to deal with the developing situation.
Taweret instructs them to balance the scales by showing each other the truth. Once back inside the ship, Marc and Steven must confront a hallway of memories. At first, there are familiar memories from previous episodes. Then Steven notices a scene he can’t remember, where their body is standing near a car and a taxi. Marc urges Steven to keep moving. Suddenly, that same boy’s voice from earlier cries out for help. Steven follows the voice into a cafeteria filled with people Marc has killed.
Soon, the little boy appears in the cafeteria. Though Marc tries to stop him, Steven follows the boy into another memory.
In this backyard BBQ scene, elements of Steven and Marc’s memories are beginning to blend together (not to mention a tiny bird skeleton resembling Khonshu). Steven recognizes his mother, though she refers to an older boy as Marc. This older boy also uses Steven’s catchphrase, “Lators, gators,” before running off with his younger brother to a cave.
As it begins to rain, water rushes into the cave and Steven attempts to rescue RoRo (Randall’s nickname), the younger brother. Meanwhile, in the asylum, Marc avoids a doorway with his mother only to end up in the same memory as Steven. This new memory shows the family sitting shiva after RoRo has passed away. The somber tone of the Jewish mourning ritual gives way to Marc’s mother yelling at the younger version of Marc, blaming him for Randall’s death. Growing more and more upset, Marc continues to push Steven away from these memories.
Sneaky Old Vulture
Before long, Steven and Marc find themselves in another memory. Out in the desert, everyone in the expedition party is dead. Marc explains to Steven that after he was discharged from the military, he began working for his former CO, a man named Bushman. Bushman ordered there to be no witnesses on this particular mission, but Marc tried to get everyone to safety before they were all killed. He failed, leading to the death of Layla’s father, Abdullah El-Faouly.
Nearly dead, Marc dragged himself into a nearby temple. Inside, he encountered Khonshu, who offered to save Marc from death — if he became his warrior. Khonshu noted that he was fascinated by Marc’s broken mind. Steven points out the god’s manipulation while Marc only sees it as confirmation of his dark nature. In desperation, Marc agreed to the deal and became Khonshu’s Moon Knight.
Room for One More
Back on the ship’s deck, Taweret tells Steven and Marc that souls are being sent to the underworld before their time. Fear and chaos are spreading due to Harrow’s actions up above. They make a deal with Taweret to balance their scales so they can leave the Duat and stop Harrow, with Khonshu’s help. Taweret agrees to steer them toward Osiris’ Gate.
Returning to the childhood memories, Steven insists on seeing what Marc didn’t want him to see before. Dr. Harrow’s narration guides their introspection as he asks Marc, “Do you think you created Steven to hide from all the awful things you feel you’ve done in your life or do you think Steven created Marc to punish the world for what your mother did to you?”
Steven and Marc are in the childhood room once again, observing young Marc. Outside, his mother demands he opens the door. The boy takes on a British accent, noting his room is a mess and needs to be tidied up. Suddenly Steven notices a movie poster on the wall that has his name in the caption. While Marc’s mother proceeds to barge in and physically abuse her son, it becomes clear that Marc created Steven Grant as a coping mechanism. This core memory is the beginning of Marc’s dissociative identity disorder.
Steven confronts Marc, angry that he is apparently only something Marc made up, a lie. With the help of Marc and Dr. Harrow, Steven comes to terms with the fact that his mother is actually dead. He returns to the unfamiliar memory of standing on a street, which it turns out was the day of his mother’s shiva. Marc couldn’t bring himself to go in, and Steven took over in his grief.
Together, Steven and Marc begin to confront their trauma. Steven reassures Marc that Randall’s death wasn’t his fault. Just as the two men are finally beginning to understand each other, they’re yanked back to Taweret’s ship. Time has run out for their scales to balance and the Duat’s unbalanced souls must now claim them. In the ensuing fight, Marc is soon overpowered but Steven realizes he and Marc are one and the same — for the first time, Steven successfully fights back.
Beyond the Sun
Though Steven puts up a good fight against the Duat’s unbalanced souls, Marc is still nearly taken overboard. To save Marc, Steven sacrifices himself. Steven falls to the dunes below. His body slowly turns to sand. In that instant, their scales finally find balance.
Marc is transported to a sunny golden field. As the hymn “Más Alla del Sol” by Manuel Bonilla plays in the background, Marc realizes he made it to the Field of Reeds. The song refers to a home built not by hands but the love of another, a refuge beyond the sun — he is in paradise but without Steven.
For even more official details from Marvel, check out their behind the scenes info here about everything Moon Knight. Next week’s finale will surely see the return of Layla and Harrow, but the biggest question is whether Marc and Steven will be reunited.
What was your favorite moment from “Asylum?” Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!